Churchill meets Truman as Trinity is tested

German women doing their washing at a water hydrant in a Berlin street, near the wreck of a German light armoured car, 3 July 1945.

German women doing their washing at a water hydrant in a Berlin street, near the wreck of a German light armoured car, 3 July 1945.

British and Russian soldiers on the balcony of the Chancellery, the spot from which Hitler made many of his speeches. Label British and Russian soldiers on the balcony of the ruined Chancellery in Berlin, 5 July 1945.

British and Russian soldiers on the balcony of the Chancellery, the spot from which Hitler made many of his speeches, 5 July 1945.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill inspecting a guard of honour of the Scots Guards at British Headquarters, Berlin, soon after his arrival for the 'Big Three' conference at Potsdam.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill inspecting a guard of honour of the Scots Guards at British Headquarters, Berlin, soon after his arrival for the ‘Big Three’ conference at Potsdam.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Harry Truman shake hands on the steps of Truman's residence, "The White House", at Kaiser Strasse, Babelsberg, Germany, on 16 July 1945.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Harry Truman shake hands on the steps of Truman’s residence, “The White House”, at Kaiser Strasse, Babelsberg, Germany, on 16 July 1945.

The ‘Big Three’, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin had been the face of the Allies for the greater part of the war, meeting in several high profile conferences to decide the course of the war. Now President Truman replaced the recently deceased Roosevelt in the line up for the last conference.

The tensions between the Soviet side and the western democracies were now becoming ever more evident. On the face of it the conference would decide the fate of Germany and the where the new boundaries of eastern Europe would lie. In reality much would be determined by the de facto occupation of territory by Soviet troops.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill leaves the ruins of Adolf Hitler's Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on 16 July 1945.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill leaves the ruins of Adolf Hitler’s Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on 16 July 1945.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill sits in a jeep outside the Reichstag during a tour of the ruined city of Berlin, Germany on 16 July 1945.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill sits in a jeep outside the Reichstag during a tour of the ruined city of Berlin, Germany on 16 July 1945.

Scene of destruction on part of the Potsdamer Platz, Berlin.

Scene of destruction on part of the Potsdamer Platz, Berlin.

Whatever hopes those attending the conference might have that they could shape the post war world and prevent further wars, new realities were rapidly outstripping their expectations. Thousands of miles away, on the same day, scientists were conducting an experiment, codename Trinity, that would change the course of world history:

Brigadier General Thomas Farrell described the reaction of Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director of the atomic research programme:

Dr. Oppenheimer, on whom had rested a very heavy burden, grew tenser as the last seconds ticked off. He scarcely breathed. He held on to a post to steady himself. For the last few seconds, he stared directly ahead and then when the announcer shouted “Now!” and there came this tremendous burst of light followed shortly thereafter by the deep growling roar of the explosion, his face relaxed into an expression of tremendous relief.

Oppenheimer himself later recalled:

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe July 21, 2015 at 10:02 pm

That would too obvious. ;)

Scott July 16, 2015 at 6:36 pm

What, no Trinity Test on July 16th 1945?

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